Why Apple Keeps New Hires in the Dark

Apple LogoApple’s penchant for secrecy extends even to its new hires, who often come aboard without knowing which product they’ll be working on, and go through a period where they’re evaluated for trustworthiness.

In his book Inside Apple, Fortune editor Adam Lashinsky says many employees are hired into “dummy positions,” which are…

…roles that aren’t explained in detail until after they join the company. The new hires have been welcomed but not yet indoctrinated and aren’t necessarily to be trusted with information as sensitive as their own mission. “They wouldn’t tell me what it was,” remembered a former engineer who had been a graduate student before joining Apple. “I knew it was related to the iPod, but not what the job was.” Others do know but won’t say, a realization that hits the newbies on their first day of work at new-employee orientation.

Updated Feb. 8, 2012, to restore video.

No Responses to “Why Apple Keeps New Hires in the Dark”

  1. Mark,
    You have a sense of humor. I just started on a short-term project that was cancelled after a week at the “job”.
    Mr Contractor is out faster than it takes the newbies at Apple to find out their position name, what to say?!!!

    • Contractors are expendable. May you didn’t pass the test? 🙂 I’ve been an apple tech for almost 18 years and I love their products, but I’ve come to the conclusion that working there is a lot different than most would believe and quite different than supporting their products outside their sphere of control. The mother wheel isn’t what we think it is.

  2. I am glad you got the video up here. I want to know more and if you go to You tube, there is the complete 50 minute interview. I know exactly what the audience member is talking about in terms of a homogeneous culture at Apple. I wonder how this will play out now that Steve is gone. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Apple treats everyone like a drone for at least their first year. Your past record outside Apple counts to determine your starting salary and level. But then you need to prove your mettle on relatively mundane things like maintenance. Not that maintenance is mundane except that you have to fix N number of bugs per month to be considered worthy where N is commonly 20 or more. This is not good as it results in minimal testable fixes that over time make the code less stable as patch is applied upon patch without enough time to see and perform any necessary re-design and re-implementation. If your are at a senior level then you are expected to maintain your bug count and someone simultaneously create something innovative and wonderful to keep in good graces – presumably on your own time.

    • I wonder how this plays out for non-programming positions and retail at Apple? I will disagree with what someone said on the video. I have known people that worked there and many times when there is a promotion, you are expected to continue to do what you did in addition to any new duties. It’s not just one thing per se. May be there people weren’t getting into high enough positions to differentiate, but it seems that there is an ever increasing requirement to perform above expectations. I would think at some point one would either fail, or in success, develop peculiar stress relief activities. I will also say that in my impression, Apple likes to hire people in the tech areas that can do the song and dance of marketers and sales people, while having technical chops. This is a very rare combination. The mother wheel isn’t what the kool-aid drinkers think it is.